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Robin J. Tausch

Scientist Emeritus

920 Valley Road
Reno, NV 89512
Contact Robin J. Tausch

Current Research

My current research is centered on the Nevada woodlands portion of a Joint Fire Sciences Program funded study, Fire and Fire Surrogates for Restoring Sagebrush Ecosystems (, the largest study JFSP has funded. this project is investigating procedures for treating these expansion woodlands and restoring the affected sagebrush ecosystems. the results from this study are providing the most comprehensive, region wide, information on the competitive interactions and ecosystem dynamics for sagebrush and woodland ecosystems for the region. A second focus is the completion of 20 years of paleoecolgical studies of Great Basin Ecosystems using plant macrofossils from woodrat middens to track past vegatation and climate changes over the last 10,000 to 30,000 years. Results are helping to improve our understanding of the patterns and preocesses behind the more recent vegetation changes, and also to provide insite into the potential for future vegetation changes, and their implications, that may result from plant species responses to future Great Basin climate change.

Research Interests

My research interests are centered around the ecology and management of vegetation changes in the Great Basin that have occurred historically, and over longer periods of time. I am also interested in modeling the growth and dynamics of individual plants, and of plant communities as self-organized systems to better understand the ecosystem dynamics of the Great Basin, particularly in response to climate change.

Past Research

For over 100 years major changes have been underway in Great Basin ecosystems that represent major problems for managers. Long-term studies of Great Basin vegetation dynamics have shown just how complex these systems are, and have shown the need for the implimentation of detailed studies to develop suitable treatment and management procedures for ecosystems in the Great Basin. Research results to date have provided information that is widely used by BLM and Forest Service mamagement personal in the Great Basin to meet these management needs.

Why This Research is Important

My interest in the vegetation dynamics of the Great Basin began in 1970 with my Master's reaearch evaluating the use of pinyon/juniper chainings as a mule deer winter range habitat improvement procedure. Woodland expansion over the twentieth century has been rapidly degrading, and even eliminating, large areas of wildlife habitat and livestock forage, and most of the procedures so far used to try to treat the problem, including chaining, have not worked particularly well. My past and present research are focused on the obtaining a much better understanding of the complexity of Great Basin and its ecosystems, climate, and history, and their interactions over time that is needed to more effectively manage this region.


  • Humboldt State University, Arcata, California, B.S., Wildlife Management, 1970
  • University of Nevada, Reno, M.S., Range Management, 1973
  • Utah State University, Logan, Utah, Ph.D., Range Ecology, 1980
  • Featured Publications


    McIver, James; Brunson, Mark; Bunting, Steve; Chambers, Jeanne C.; Doescher, Paul; Grace, James; Hulet, April; Johnson, Dale; Knick, Steve; Miller, Richard; Pellant, Mike; Pierson, Fred; Pyke, David; Rau, Benjamin; Rollins, Kim; Roundy, Bruce; Schupp, Eugene; Tausch, Robin J.; Williams, Jason, 2014. A synopsis of short-term response to alternative restoration treatments in Sagebrush-Steppe: The SageSTEP Project
    Roundy, Bruce A.; Young, Kert; Cline, Nathan; Hulet, April; Miller, Richard F.; Tausch, Robin J.; Chambers, Jeanne C.; Rau, Ben, 2014. Pinon-juniper reduction increases soil water availability of the resource growth pool
    Chambers, Jeanne C.; Miller, Richard F.; Board, David; Pyke, David A.; Roundy, Bruce A.; Grace, James B.; Schupp, Eugene W.; Tausch, Robin J., 2014. Resilience and resistance of sagebrush ecosystems: Implications for state and transition models and management treatments
    Miller, Richard F.; Ratchford, Jaime; Roundy, Bruce A.; Tausch, Robin J.; Hulet, April; Chambers, Jeanne C., 2014. Response of conifer-encroached shrublands in the Great Basin to prescribed fire and mechanical treatments
    Roundy, Bruce A.; Miller, Richard F.; Tausch, Robin J.; Young, Kert; Hulet, April; Rau, Ben; Jessop, Brad; Chambers, Jeanne C.; Eggett, Dennis, 2014. Understory cover responses to pinon-juniper treatments across tree dominance gradients in the Great Basin
    Rau, B. M.; Tausch, Robin J.; Reiner, A.; Johnson, D. W.; Chambers, Jeanne C.; Blank, R. R., 2012. Developing a model framework for predicting effects of woody expansion and fire on ecosystem carbon and nitrogen in a pinyon-juniper woodland
    Miller, Richard F.; Tausch, Robin J.; McArthur, E. Durant; Johnson, Dustin D.; Sanderson, Stewart, 2008. Age structure and expansion of pinon-juniper woodlands: a regional perspective in the Intermountain West
    Rowland, Mary M.; Suring, Lowell H.; Tausch, Robin J.; Geer, Susan; Wisdom, Michael J., 2008. Characteristics of western juniper encroachment into sagebrush communities in central Oregon
    Romme, William H.; Allen, Craig D.; Bailey, John D.; Baker, William L.; Bestelmeyer, Brandon T.; Brown, Peter M.; Eisenhart, Karen S.; Floyd-Hanna, Lisa; Huffman, Dustin W.; Jacobs, Brian F.; Miller, Richard F.; Muldavin, Esteban H.; Swetnam, Thomas W.; Tausch, Robin J.; Weisberg, Peter J., 2008. Historical and modern disturbance regimes, stand structures, and landscape dynamics in pinon-juniper vegetation of the western U.S.
    Tausch, Robin J.; Hood, Sharon M., 2007. Pinyon/juniper woodlands [Chapter 4]
    Wisdom, Michael J.; Rowland, Mary M.; Tausch, Robin J., 2005. Effective management strategies for sage-grouse and sagebrush: a question of triage?
    Chambers, Jeanne C.; McArthur, E. Durant; Monson, Steven B.; Meyer, Susan E.; Shaw, Nancy L.; Tausch, Robin J.; Blank, Robert R.; Bunting, Steve; Miller, Richard R.; Pellant, Mike; Roundy, Bruce A.; Walker, Scott C.; Whittaker, Alison, 2005. Sagebrush steppe and pinyon-juniper ecosystems: effects of changing fire regimes, increased fuel loads, and invasive species
    West, Neil E.; Tausch, Robin J.; Tueller, Paul T., 1998. A management-oriented classification of pinyon-juniper woodlands of the Great Basin
    Barrow, Jerry R.; McArthur, E. Durant; Sosebee, Ronald E.; Tausch, Robin J., 1996. Proceedings: shrubland ecosystem dynamics in a changing environment
    Modern vegetation analysis techniques were used to statistically analyze 154 plant taxa from 52 fossil woodrat midden strata from a cold desert area adjacent to Pyramid Lake. These midden strata were located over an 800 meter elevation gradient and covered the last 35,000 years. Analysis results show significant trends from 35,000 years ago to the present of a decreasing number of forb taxa, and an increasing number of shrub taxa.

    RMRS Science Program Areas: 
    Grassland, Shrubland and Desert Ecosystems